This is a Messianic psalm. It is certainly possible to interpret it without reference to the Messiah in which case the "anointed" would be King David. However, in Acts 4:26 this word is rendered "Christ".
Some use passages such as this to support their notion that David is a type of Christ. They then pick and choose events from David's life and apply them to Christ however they must pass over many events; this process of determining types is rather arbitrary. It is much more straightforward to interpret each passage on it own merits: some refer to only one event or person; some have multiple objects; and are prophetic.
(Psalm 2:1) Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
This verse is about the heathen; those who are not the chosen of God. They hate God and believe they do not need to submit to his rule.
In the context of the Old Testament the heathen nations did not know of the true God; they worshipped idols, sacrificed their children, and practiced ritual sexual immorality. Perhaps there were those who rejected these practices and who knew the true God, but this psalm is not about them.
This verse reminds me of various New Testament verses of people gnashing their teeth against God. They gnash their teeth in hatred of God as he judges them.
(Psalm 2:2) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD (Jehovah), and against his anointed, saying,
(Psalm 2:3) Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
We are introduced to the godless kings of the world who do wicked deeds. The wicked wish to band together against God. They feel the sovereign power of God but wish to be free of it just as Lucifer does.
Notice that there are two Divine persons: (1) the Lord, and (2) his anointed, the promised seed of the line of King David. Both are involved in judgment of the wicked.
The time period of these verses is all of human history. The kings and rulers referred to are all wicked, God-hating kings and rulers.
There certainly is an immediate reference to those who rebelled against king David; he spent many years fighting against these.
Earthly kings are mentioned in verses 2, 6, and 10. Wicked kings are contrasted with God's chosen king, King David, who is God's anointed.
(Psalm 2:4) He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord (Adonai) shall have them in derision.
God does not laugh because he is mocking them but, rather, because he recognizes their foolishness. He hates their free-will choices to sin.
(Psalm 2:5) Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
We do not live in a vacuum; God continually communicates his will and his grace to us. When we sin God speaks to us in judgment because the holy God must judge sin. When we sin we do not receive the full abundance of grace from God — we are vexed. We require God's full grace to truly prosper.
(Psalm 2:6) Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
This king is righteous, presumably perfectly righteous. The people of Old Testament times were likely looking forward to a future utopian era but I wonder how many thought it would occur in their lifetimes? Probably it is this material utopian ideal that impassioned the Jewish revolutionaries at the time of Christ and which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
There certainly is an immediate reference to king David.
In my view this verse refers to the new heavens and new earth in which the resurrected David literally rules the world from Jerusalem. Thus we have three persons mentioned in this psalm (1) the Lord (God the Father), (2) the Son (Jesus Christ), and (3) the king (the resurrected King David).
This verse contrasts the fate of the wicked kings of the world with God's chosen king, David. By way of application we see that the redeemed will have a glorious future in which they fulfill their God-given purpose in life (for David it was to be king of Israel) but the damned receive nothing except eternal punishment.
Some interpret this verse allegoricallyto refer to Christ's spiritual rule in the souls and spirits of the redeemed of all ages but doing this renders the Bible unintelligible; it no longer means anything because it means whatever you want it to mean.
We need to consider who is speaking in verses 6 through 8; who the "I" is. More on this in the next verse.
This holy hill of Zion is not the New Jerusalem. Some differences:
|Holy hill of Zion||New Jerusalem|
|Has a temple||No temple|
|Ruled by the resurrected King David||Kings go there to worship Christ (Revelation 21:24)|
|Christ does not reside there||Christ resides there|
|There is a sun||No sun|
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it [the New Jerusalem]: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)
(Psalm 2:7) I will declare the decree: the LORD (Jehovah) hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
The "I" who is speaking is God in two persons of the Trinity: God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. From verse 2 we know that the word "LORD" (Jehovah) refers to God the Father and that the other Divine person (Adonai, Lord) is Jesus Christ, the Son, the anointed one:
He [God the Father] who sits in the heavens will laugh: the Lord [Adonai, Jesus Christ] will ridicule them. Then he [God the Father] will speak to them in his [God the Father's] wrath, and vex them in his [God the Father's] extreme displeasure. I [Jesus Christ] have set my [Jesus Christ's] king upon my [Jesus Christ's] holy hill of Zion. I [Jesus Christ] will declare the decree: the LORD [Jehovah, God the Father] has said to me [Jesus Christ],
"You [Jesus Christ] are my [God the Father's] Son; today I [God the Father] have begotten you [Jesus Christ]. (You) [Jesus Christ], ask me [God the Father], and I [God the Father] will give you [Jesus Christ] the heathen for your [Jesus Christ] inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your [Jesus Christ] possession. You [Jesus Christ] will break them with a rod of iron; you [Jesus Christ] will dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."(Psalm 2:4-9)
A few things we learn from this:
(Psalm 2:8) Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
When Jesus asks God the Father for anything it is granted. Thus, all are welcome into Christ's kingdom (if they accept it in faith and repentance) and the entire universe will one day be fully a part of Christ's eternal kingdom.
(Psalm 2:9) Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
The phrase "rod of iron" refers to judgment, not rulership. Jesus Christ is the judge.
I've read that in ancient days kings would write the names of their enemies on pottery then smash it to pieces to symbolize their hoped-for victory.
(Psalm 2:10) Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
God wishes the wicked to repent so they can receive God's glorious blessings.
(Psalm 2:11) Serve the LORD (Yahweh) with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
The redeemed must have this attitude: (1) they recognize that God is all powerful, that he is the judge of all, and that he has the power to damn a person for all eternity; (2) they serve God; and (3) they rejoice in their blessings.
(Psalm 2:12) Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
The word "Son" refers to deity.
The redeemed must truly love Christ with affection. They must completely trust in him.
The damned are judged by God's holy wrath.
This psalm is Messianic. Verse 10 (thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption) is quoted in Acts 2:27 and clearly refers to Christ.
It is easy to interpret this psalm without reference to the Christ in which case King David is referred to.
(Psalm 16:1) Michtam of David. Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.
David is speaking.
David recognizes that only God can preserve him. We should wonder what he needs to be preserved from? Later in the psalm we learn that it is eternal damnation.
He deserves to be preserved because he trusts in God; because he has a living faith.
(Psalm 16:2) O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD (Yahweh), Thou art my Lord (Adonai): my goodness extendeth not to thee;
David speaks to his own soul. This does not mean that he has two separate points of consciousness.
David expresses his faith in two points; (1) that God the Father is his Lord, and (2) that he is not worthy of God's goodness because his thoughts and actions are imperfect.
Notice that David refers to God as both Yahweh and Adonai.
David recognizes that only God is truly good and that David's goodness does not compare to God's infinite goodness.
(Psalm 16:3) But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
David takes delight in those who are saintly and excellent.
(Psalm 16:4) Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
David mentions those who worship false pagan gods. They will have sorrows.
David will not worship these false gods, nor participate in sacrifices to them, nor speak their names in worship and reverence, not pray to them.
(Psalm 16:5) The LORD (Yahweh) is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
(Psalm 16:6) The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
David will receive his good things (his inheritance) from God and his inheritance is God, not anything of this world. His cup is filled with God, not with mere worldly substances.
David doesn't have to worry about whether or not he will receive from God what is rightfully his for God will provide it and maintain it.
(Psalm 16:7) I will bless the LORD (Yahweh), who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
God instructs David at all times because David desires instruction from the Lord. This happens even at night, the time of darkness when others are sinning because the darkness hides them from discovery.
Blessing the Lord is to worship the Lord. It blesses God when we demonstrate our love and devotion to him.
(Psalm 16:8) I have set the LORD (Yahweh) always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
David has God ever on his mind in all his actions and activities. David doesn't need to worry about whether his sword is at his right hand or whether he has someone else to protect him because God is protecting him. This gives David great confidence.
(Psalm 16:9) Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Because of these blessings David has a glad heart and he is not anxious or distressed. He knows that he doesn't need to be concerned with the fate of his body.
(Psalm 16:10) For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Even though David's will journey in the spirit realm (sheol) after death he knows that God will raise him up to something glorious at the end.
David has waxed eloquently about his faith and devotion to God; he is a holy one, set apart for God. He will therefore not be judged to an eternal fate of damnation.
It appears that David had the concept of two fates: (1) hell and corruption for the wicked; and (1) something better for the righteous (God's presence, eternal pleasures, fulness of joy).
This verse is quoted in Acts 2:27 and refers to Christ's death and resurrection. If God will raise up David as promised and prophesied in this psalm, certainly the Messiah would have a more glorious fate. As it turns out, Christ was resurrected first as the firstfruit. David and the other righteous people of all time will only be resurrected at the end o human history at the second coming of Christ.
(Psalm 16:11) Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
David requires God to guide him and instruct him in how he is to live.
The best condition for humans is in the presence of God for this brings abundant joy.
Those who are children of God will receive eternal pleasure.
In this psalm people are called "gods". Jesus refers to this passage (John 10:34) and uses it to demonstrate that it should not trouble them to view him as God based on this passage.
(Psalm 82:1) A Psalm of Asaph. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
Perhaps the "mighty" referred to are the souls of the righteous who had already died. The angels are referred to as "gods".
Notice that God interacts in assemblies with the creatures he created.
(Psalm 82:2) How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
Everyone wants to know when God will remove the wicked so their wicked deeds will no longer be able to influence others for the worse. It almost sounds like they are calling God's decision to allow these wicked to remain for a time as unjust; certainly we see no good reason for God's delay. But we must trust that he has good reason.
(Psalm 82:3) Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
(Psalm 82:4) Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
We are to be concerned with the poor and needy. Even from heaven people and angels are interceding for these.
It is hard to imaging why someone would take advantage of these weaker members of society.
(Psalm 82:5) They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
These wicked people are ignorant; they are walking in spiritual darkness.
The reference to the foundations of the earth is literal, not figurative. The earth has a manifestation in the spiritual realm which corresponds with the earth of the material realm. This spiritual earth is influenced by the powers of darkness and its foundation are indeed off course. This manifests in various ways in the physical world in which people are harmed by natural disasters. In the new heavens and new earth there will be harmony between the physical and the material.
(Psalm 82:6) I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
People are now referred to as "gods". They are gods in the same way angels are gods because their souls reside in the spiritual realm and they can interact with God and with other spiritual beings.
This verse seems to refer specifically to the Israelites who were chosen as God's special people and nation.
(Psalm 82:7) But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
Even though humans are "gods" we will each die one day. The Israelites (as "gods") are not exempt from this fate.
(Psalm 82:8) Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
Finally God will one day judge the wicked and restore righteousness to the earth.
Notice that the nations will continue to exist after this final judgment. The new heavens and new earth will be much like this earth of today.
This psalm is clearly Messianic. Jesus refers to this psalm in Matthew 22:44 for the purpose of demonstrating that David prophesied about the Messiah who would be his descendant.
In Hebrews chapter 5 the person of Melchizedek is used to demonstrate that the Levitical priesthood is not the only priesthood and that Christ is a priest in the order of Melchizedek.
(Psalm 110:1) A Psalm of David. The LORD (Yahweh) said unto my Lord (Adonai), Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Two members of the Godhead are conversing. God the Father speaks to Jesus Christ the Son of God. It is hard to imagine that David was unaware of this meaning in his words; clearly David was a great prophet.
Christ is now sitting in the place of power at God the Father's right hand. He will remain there until the final judgment in which the powers of darkness are defeated in eternal judgment.
(Psalm 110:2) The LORD (Yahweh) shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
This describes some of the events immediately preceding the second coming of Christ. Israel and Jerusalem will be a focal point of God's judgment at this time.
Christ's second coming will occur in phases. The early phases will occur on earth as he appears in apparitions.
There are many passages in which the wicked hide in rocks and caves during a time of judgment, presumably the final judgment. Premillennialists often interpret these passages as referring to the great tribulation but some seem to be in the context of final judgment.
(Psalm 110:3) Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
It seems that there is a final war against Christ as he appears to everyone as lightening visible in the east and west; perhaps these are global apparitions. There will be a group of devout people who will battle with the wicked. It's hard to imagine a war in which one side is composed of the righteous and the other the wicked; I suppose this day it in the distant future.
The meaning of the second half of this verse is unclear. There are images of dawn, the righteous, holiness, youth, strength, vigor. All these images are clustered around the topic of birth and newness. The events of the second coming of Christ will usher in a new, fresh world of holiness and goodness.
(Psalm 110:4) The LORD (Yahweh) hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Christ is our high priest. His priesthood is not of the Levitical priesthood of Israel. In the new heavens and new earth there will be Levitical priests in Israel but there will simultaneously be priests after the order of Melchizedek.
Notice that this priesthood of Christ is permanent and is certain.
(Psalm 110:5) The Lord (Adonai) at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
Christ will be the judge at the final day of judgment. No one is exempt from God's judgment; even the mightiest of kings will be judged.
The final judgment is often referred to with the word "wrath" because God hates sin and judges it. The sinful cannot enter the presence of a Holy God. The sheer power of Holiness will overwhelm the perverse mindset and attitudes of sinners. The shock of this judgment will be as if they were struck.
(Psalm 110:6) He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
God will judge the wicked.
Notice that this final judgment involves the physical killing of those who are alive on earth at the time it occurs. I think that those who inherit the new heavens and new earth will first clean up the mess:
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks. (Isaiah 2:4a, Micah 4:3a)
This is a foreign idea to most Protestants (and Catholics) but it seems that the scripture requires this interpretation.
Perhaps this verse if referring to the early preliminary stages of Christ's second coming.
(Psalm 110:7) He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
This is a difficult verse to understand. There are images of drinking refreshing water and being strengthened and encouraged. Perhaps this is a scene of Christ's activities in the new heavens and new earth; he will eat and drink and interact with his fellow humans.